Full video of the IDRC International Women's Day panel on "Is innovation sexist?" is now available online. Our CEO Helani Galpaya was part of this panel.
LIRNEasia CEO Helani Galpaya was invited to a panel discussion titled “Is Innovation Sexist” in celebration of International Women’s Day.  The event was held in Ottawa, Canada on the 8th of March, It was inaugurated by Celina R. Caesar-Chavannes, M.P., Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development.
Over the last few days I had the opportunity to present our thoughts on leveraging big data for development at two different venues in Ottawa, Canada. The first was at the headquarters of Global Affairs Canada on 11th March 2016, where I along with the head of UN Global Pulse spoke to an audience of about 100 people that included staff from Global Affairs and IDRC, as well as Canadian academics and researchers. The slides I used are available HERE. The second opportunity was today (14th March 2016) at the headquarters of IDRC, where I had the opportunity to share some of work with IDRC staff from different developmental domains. The slides that I used are available HERE.

Maurice Strong and the IDRC

Posted by on November 30, 2015  /  0 Comments

I read today that Maurice Strong had passed away. I’d never met him. But I knew of him. The very first paper that I wrote in Graduate School was on how IDRC mobilized research networks. This was in December 1979, 37 years ago.
Today I had the pleasure to talk about LIRNEasia’s ongoing multi-disciplinary big data for development research at the IDRC Asian Regional Office in Delhi. The work that we have been doing in this space has been funded primarily by IDRC. It was engaging talking to experts with interests in different domains (agriculture, health, governance, climate change adaptability, urban and transportation policy, electricity, livelihoods) working in India as well as elsewhere. The slideset I used is here.
As part of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) distinguished lecture series, Sriganesh Lokanathan, Team Leader- Big Data Research at LIRNEasia will be giving a talk in Delhi (Ramalingaswami Conference Hall, International Development Research Centre, 208 Jor Bagh, New Delhi 110003) on Monday, 2nd November 2015. Sriganesh will be speaking on the topic of “Leveraging mobile network big data for developmental policy: opportunities & challenges.” Anyone who wishes to attend should RSVP to Pratibha Shukla – email or call +91-11-2461 9411 (extn: 7406) Program: 11.00 am        Welcome and introductions: Dr.
Late May in Ottawa, I was among those interviewed for an article about big data. Similarly, private telecom companies’ data on mobile phone traffic has become a crucial resource for researchers at the Sri Lanka-based think tank LIRNEasia, a long-time IDRC research partner. Using phone data that tracks traffic flows can be a low-cost means of helping governments decide where to invest in road and public transport upgrades, says LIRNEasia chair Rohan Samarajiva. Since mobile phones are ubiquitous in Sri Lanka and phone traffic data is anonymous, studies are less likely to be biased in favour of the rich, he says. “We see that a mobile phone travels down a highway at a certain speed, but whether it’s rich or poor, travelling in a car or bus or motorbike — we don’t know.
The full webcast of the Shades of Open session which dealt with whether data held by private entities should be open is available here. At the session moderated by Stefaan Verhulst, I framed the issues within the context of principal-agent theory and competition and illustrated my arguments from our experience in working with mobile network big data. I went first, so my opening presentation is at 4:26. The second intervention is at around 26:00.
When the President of the Treasury Board of Canada comes to a conference and delivers a serious speech you know that the government takes the subject seriously. And the effort IDRC out into its organization showed it was a high priority for them too. It was a long way to go to speak for 15 minutes, but luckily the listening was perhaps even better than the speaking part. To paraphrase one of Moliere’s characters for more than seven years we had been doing openness without knowing it. It was good to have that understanding reinforced.
Vignesh Illavarasan is featured as ICT Champion by the IDRC Asia Office: P. Vigneswara Ilavarasan of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), New Delhi has identified situations in which mobile phones lead to positive development outcomes. Since 2008, he has been involved in research on the economic and social impact of ICTs, especially mobile phones. His research interests are focused on how micro-entrepreneurs, especially women, leverage ICTs for economic growth. According to Ilavarasan, the role of ICTs in social and economic development is complex.
The launch of the Myanmar version of Information lives of the poor, a book featuring LIRNEasia research among others, is featured in the latest issue of the IDRC Asia Office newsletter. The Burmese edition of Information Lives of the Poor: Fighting Poverty With Technology was launched in Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw, Burma, in July 2014. Part of IDRC’s in_focus collection, the book explores the poverty reduction impacts of the exploding use of mobile phones in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Many stakeholders of the rapidly growing ICT sector in Burma attended the two launches. The Canadian Ambassador to Burma, H.
In 2005 January I asked my friend, Pete Anderson, to take a risk and come to Sri Lanka to participate in the expert forum we had convened on the 26th of January to develop policy recommendations for effective early warning. At that moment I did not have a budget line to pay out of, but I said I’ll find the money to reimburse him, and I did. That first visit is described in AQ, the Simon Fraser University alumni magazine, along with some photos we took on the trip down the coast with Asantha Sirimanne, one of the journalists who first reported the tragedy: Within days of the 2004 catastrophic tsunami that struck South Asia, killing more than 250,000 people, Anderson travelled to Sri Lanka and paced the broken shorelines in the disaster’s immediate aftermath. There he formed ideas on how to help local communities devise and implement their own emergency communications strategies, eventually collaborating with local organizations to develop the Last Mile Hazard Information Dissemination Project, designed to improve the capabilities of the country when disaster strikes. The pilot project generated a capacity-building experience that is leading to community communications improvements.
The first translation of the book Information lives of the poor, co-authored by Laurent Elder, Rohan Samarajiva, Alison Gillwald and Hernan Galperin and published by IDRC, was ceremonially released in Yangon at an event on the 25th of July. The picture shows one of the co-authors handing over the book to H.E. Mark McDowell, Canada’s Ambassador to Myanmar. MIDO, Myanmar ICT for Development Organization, produced the Myanmar version.
Information and communication have always opened opportunities for the poor to earn income, reduce isolation, and respond resiliently to emergencies. With mobile phone use exploding across the developing world, even marginalized communities are now benefiting from modern communication tools. This book explores the impacts of this unprecedented technological change. Drawing on unique household surveys undertaken by research networks active in 38 developing countries, it helps to fill knowledge gaps about how the poor use information and communication technologies (ICTs). How have they benefited from mobile devices, computers, and the Internet?
LIRNEasia, in partnership with the Myanmar ICT Development Organization (MIDO), is conducting a training course on ICT regulation in Taungoo, Myanmar from September 28 to October 2, 2013. The information on this course will be posted under capacity building shortly. Taungoo is 3.5 to 4 hours away from Yangon. Yet I considered it a good use of my time to take a break from teaching to travel to Yangon yesterday because our anchor funder IDRC had convened a roundtable of Myanmar researchers and wanted my presence.
IDRC is starting a new initiative on inclusive innovation for development. As part of that effort a workshop on universities and intermediaries for inclusive development with participants from across several countries in South Asia plus South east Asia, and IDRC representatives from Canada and elsewhere, is being held in Negombo, 2-3 February 2012. Sujata Gamage, LIRNEasia’s Lead Scientist, is one of the lead speakers and the key liaison for this activity. Dr Shambu Prasad of the Xavier Institute of Business Management is the lead organizer. Sujata Gamage’s presentation is here.
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